New Years Eve marks the first round of the College Football Playoffs
After an all-too-short college football season, here we are, anticipating the playoff matchups between two upstart newcomers and a pair of SEC powerhouses. First up, though, are a couple Bowls that have dealt with the COVID-19 related dropouts, necessitating finding quick replacements.
As always, let’s talk about the games, leave questions on prospects and enjoy the weekend.
No. 17 Wake Forest vs. Rutgers
11:00 AM EST, ESPN
Rutgers was added to the game due to a COVID-related drop out from Texas A&M. The Scarlett Knights have been on the upswing though, thanks to a solid defense led by linebacker Olakunle Fatukasi and a running game led by Isaiah Pacheco, who recently declared. Wake Forest’s offense is no joke. Wide receiver Jaquarii Roberson recently declared, and although Sam Hartman will likely stick around, he’ll be a strong quarterback prospect in 2023.
Washington State vs. Central Michigan
12:00 PM EST, ESPN
Boise State dropped out of this particular bowl, so in comes the MAC’s Chippewas. Their biggest and most notable prospect is tackle Bernhard Raimann, who some are projecting to be a first-round pick. On defense, they also sport a top-flight corner in Dishon McNary, although he might not end up playing. Washington State also has an offensive line prospect in massive right tackle Abe Lucas. He helps pave the way for a tough runner in Max Borghi.
No. 4 Cincinnati vs. No. 1 Alabama
3:30 PM EST, ESPN
In what some might consider the most anticipated game of the week, the Bearcats finally get what they wished: a playoff berth and the chance to face a Power Five champion. Both teams have too many prospects to name, but the biggest matchups will be between Tide wide receivers John Metchie, Jameson Williams and tight end Jahleel Billingsley, against Cincinnati corners Ahmad ‘Sauce’ Gardner and Coby Bryant. I wouldn’t anticipate Bearcat edge rusher Myjai Sanders to have much effect on ‘Bama left tackle Evan Neal.
No. 3 Georgia vs. No. 2 Michigan
7:30 PM EST, ESPN
Jim Harbaugh earned redemption this season, but can he deliver a College Football championship? This game offers yet another opportunity to watch Michigan edge rushers Aidan Hutchinson—who will likely be a top-ten pick—and David Ojabo. I doubt the Wolverines will want to throw the ball much against Georgia’s secondary that features corner Derion Kendrick. But, if that’s the case, tailback Hassan Haskins will have to deal with nose tackle Jordan Davis and the heat-seeking missile that is Nakobe Dean instead.